DPS teachers ok contract, other districts close


Denver teachers have ratified a contract agreement giving them a cost-of-living increase of 2.5 percent for this school year, union leaders announced Monday.

At least two other large Colorado districts also are wrapping up talks – Pueblo City Schools on Monday announced a tentative settlement, subject to the approval of teachers and school board members. Douglas County’s is expected to announce an agreement before the week is out.

In Greeley, teachers’ union leaders are reviewing the district’s latest offer, with an agreement to respond by Oct. 6. In St. Vrain Valley, the district and union are in the midst of an independent fact-finding review.

In Boulder Valley, the impasse continues. District spokesman Briggs Gamblin said the district has renewed its call for fact-finding and union leaders are asking “clarifying questions” about what that would entail.

Click here to see the Boulder district’s latest offer and here for the Boulder teachers’  union perspective.

Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said 92 percent of teachers who voted supported the negotiated agreement with Denver Public Schools.

About 3,000 of Denver’s 4,100 public school teachers are DCTA members; 1,744 voted in schools during the past two weeks.

The increase is actually less than DPS teachers were expecting under a three-year contract bargained last fall. That agreement called for a raise equal to the consumer price index, or 3.9 percent, plus .25 percent.

But DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg asked to re-negotiate the pay portion of the contract in light of the state’s fiscal crisis.

“One of the realities we have to face is the economic conditions and the economic picture we’re getting,” Roman said.

Denver school board members already approved the agreement, subject to teachers’ ratification so “it’s a done deal,” he said.

The cost-of-living increase is retroactive to Sept. 1.

Also included in the agreement is a 2.5 percent increase in medical benefits.

DPS, along with other Colorado school districts, was required by state lawmakers to place 1.9 percent of their state funding this year in an emergency reserve account. In January, they’ll decide whether to “unfreeze” that money – or withhold it permanently.

It appears increasingly unlikely that districts will get to use that money, based on bleak state revenue forecasts.

But if that money, or $10.4 million for DPS, is freed, then Denver teachers will see an additional 1.65 percent bonus.

And if the state does not require additional cuts for 2010-11, according to the agreement, that extra 1.65 percent becomes a permanent raise.

Other pieces of the agreement include collaborative planning between the union and district for new teacher orientation, training for teachers to serve on school leadership teams and adding the term “domestic partner” to sick leave benefits for teachers.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at or 303-478-4573.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.